Formula 1

German Grand Prix loss sends a big message to historical F1 venues

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For the first time in 60 years, Formula 1 will not be hosting a race in Germany.

That is the increasingly inevitable outcome as, earlier this week the manager at Hockenheim, the circuit that hosted last year's German Grand Prix, said there would not be a race at the venue in 2015.

Hockenheim seemed to be the only hope of keeping one of the most successful motorsport nations on the schedule this season. This comes as new owners at the equally famed Nurburgring, the circuit that should have hosted the race this year, were unable to reach an agreement with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone.

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As a result, a Grand Prix that only has a Formula 1 history bettered by Italy and Great Britain and what would be the home race for three of the current grid of drivers and also the current constructors' world champions, now looks almost certain not to take place.

Germany set to follow France in F1 exile?

For now, most see this as just a single-year absence before the likelihood of a return in 2016 but given the loss of other races and competition from elsewhere, is that really the case?

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After all, France, the home of the first Grand Prix back in 1906, lost its race after 2008. Despite attempts to garner the financial support to bring the race back at either the last venue in Magny-Cours or a former host circuit at Paul Ricard, there remains little sign France will be back on the calendar any time soon.

Add to that the arrival of a new race in Azerbaijan from next year as well as proposed races in Las Vegas and elsewhere and the limit of 20 races, which F1 would have reached if Germany remained on the schedule, is looking ever harder to stick to.

Money speaks, as does a loss of fans

What the loss of the German Grand Prix also signifies, however, is how money plays the main role in deciding where the F1 show goes.

History does have a place to a certain extent as races in Britain, Italy, Belgium etc. all pay lower fees compared to those who use F1 more as a status and promotional tool as in the cases of Russia, Bahrain etc. and Monaco doesn't even pay to host a Grand Prix at all. 

But Europe's grip on the calendar has weakened as more Grand Prix's in Asia and the Americas have joined, yet despite that, the traditional home of F1 remains, by far, the biggest audience the sport has.

Viewing numbers have dropped, and indeed the lack of fans who went to Hockenheim last year, a figure of only around 50,000, is one of the reasons neither circuit is prepared to pay the fee that Ecclestone demands, but also on TV both Germany and Italy have seen their passion for F1 fall.

Other great venues might fall

Perhaps it is no surprise then that Ecclestone has also targeted Monza, another great historical circuit that might be confined to the history books.

The fastest circuit on the calendar and home for the Ferrari tifosi, Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for all but one of the 65 races since 1950, however, the F1 supremo has claimed he will not renew the current contract which expires next year describing the current deal he has as a commercial "disaster".

There was talk that Mugello, a current MotoGP venue and a circuit owned by Ferrari, might consider taking the F1 race should it leave Monza, however, the loss of the great Milan track would be another huge hammer blow for the history of the sport.

Elsewhere, Belgium's Grand Prix at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit has had its fair share of financial and commercial problems over the years, indeed twice it was dropped during the 2000's.

Recently, however it has mainly been the funding that has put the biggest question mark over the future of the race and there had been talk of an alternation with France to make the sport affordable. Now though, a new deal has be confirmed which will see the great track continue to hold a race until 2018.

Others must heed the warning

The targeting of some of the most prestigious races on the calendar sends a big warning to any race organiser that if you can't stump up the cash you ain't getting a spot regardless of what the other impacts may be.

While that highlights just how the focus on making F1 into a profitable business has come to the detriment of the sporting aspect it also shows that Grand Prix organisers must do more to maximise what revenues they can gain and do more to attract more fans to the circuit on a race weekend. 

France and Germany were the first to feel the axe drop and if others don't heed that warning then they may follow suit.

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